Your Eyes My Hands | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Your Eyes My Hands 

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YOUR EYES MY HANDS, Blue Rider Theatre. When a young man's girlfriend breaks their date, he drives to her house in such a fury that he crashes the car. Later they consider the destructive patterns of their relationship. A typical lovers' spat, right? Yes, except that the young man is deaf, the result of a near-fatal childhood bout with spinal meningitis. He and his girlfriend quarrel via TDD keyboard, their spelling and diction growing more ragged as their anger mounts.

Rather than present his semiautobiographical one-man show, Your Eyes My Hands, in sign language with a vocal interpreter, Peter Cook tells his story by projecting words and pictures onto massive screens and by using percussion and electric bass incidental music (performed live by Kevin Dean O'Neill) perceivable by the hearing-impaired. And of course Cook uses his own phenomenally expressive hands and face, showcased last year in the remarkable Sleep of Reason at Bailiwick Repertory. This collaboration by some of the same people may not be clear in every detail, but the spare story allows for moments both poignant--as when the boy first realizes that the defect is not in others' voices but in himself--and satirical: in a sequence called "The Reverend Silenthands," Cook plays an evangelist who preaches "Hear no evil" and miraculously "heals" an aurally able sinner.

Created by Cook, Cecilie D. Keenan, and Lori Willis, Your Eyes My Hands does not simply preach to the choir, however: because the difficulties of communication are universal, the hearing and nonhearing alike will learn much from Cook's magical vision.

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